Nigeria’s Super Eagles shot themselves into top spot in Group C on Friday night after a deserved 1-0 win over former Champions Libya. Sunday Faleye scored the game’s only goal eleven minutes from time and our Chief Football Writer FISAYO DAIRO who was at the Grand Stande de Tangier brought home three vital points from the game.
Here are his thoughts:
1. Faleye’s displays advocates for “Not too Young to Play”
Emerging from a league renowned for its penchant to recycle old players season after season, Sunday Faleye’s contribution to this Super Eagles team has reinforced calls on league clubs to give many more youths the required platform to exhibit their talents in the league.
Faleye has absolutely been one of the brightest parts of Salisu Yusuf’s team. From hitting the cross bar early in the first game against Rwanda to twisting and turning Libyan defenders in the second half on Friday. It was befitting that this youngster who has played just one season of professional football would account for Nigeria’s winner against Libya.
Faleye’s heroics demand that we give youths a chance. “Not too Young to Play”
2. Forget MVP Eze, Orji is the bomb!
Towering defender Stephen Eze continues to rise and rise. After sealing a pre-contract arrangement with Bulgarian club Lokomotiv Plovdiv on Thursday, the former Lobi Stars defender was named Man-of-the-Match in Friday’s win but his defense partner Kalu Orji Okogbue emerged as my unsung hero of the team.
Undoubtedly one of the more experienced players in the team, Okogbue ticked all the boxes with his anticipation, interceptions and clearances throughout the game. Despite a first half yellow card, he was able to stay composed and neutralised Libya’s dangerous weapon Saleh Al Taher (scorer of a brace in their first game) throughout his hour of participation in the game.
He alongside midfielder Emeka Atuloma were undoubtedly key in Nigeria’s solidity on Friday.
3. Okpotu-Mustapha can solve scoring problem
Like a typical Nigerian side, this side continues to struggle to create scoring opportunities. The fact that only two of their twenty-four attempts against Rwanda got on target is a worrying stat on its own let alone failure to create chances in the game against Libya which they controlled for most parts.
On Friday, the team played a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rabiu Ali at the Number 10 role. The Pillars legend was totally lost for the entire duration while Anthony Okpotu played a target man role, flicking and jabbing long punts with no one able to utilise them.
With substitute striker Ibrahim Mustapha proving to be a more mobile and energetic outlet, it is worth trying to start the Enyimba striker with Okpotu in a 4-4-2 set up with Atuloma and Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (or Dayo Ojo as the case may be) providing an assured base in midfield.
There is no better time to try this than against Equatorial Guinea who are all but assured of returning home after the group stage.
The million dollar question is: Can Salisu Yusuf do without Rabiu Ali
Is it a taboo to substitute Ali? #CHAN2018
— Enitan Obadina (@enitanoba) January 19, 2018
What are your observation(s) from the game? Let us have your thoughts on the comments section.